Published On: Wed, Aug 29th, 2018

“How to transform a society into the concept of Curaçao 4.0.?”

Curacao_54_990x660Supporting a circular economic growth strategy for Curaçao, the government could politically follow the example of Panama. Immigration is the secret of Panama's thriving economy, according to Harvard Professor Ricardo Hausmann. He spoke in a session at the World Economic Forum about Latin America. Latin America is in the economic crisis. After almost ten years of progress, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been negative for the past two years, making it the biggest contraction in the region since the 1980s. But there is one exception: Panama! Between 2001 and 2013 the economy of the country grew twice as fast as the regional average. In fact, it was one of the fastest growing economies in the world. "What Panama shows the rest of Latin America is that in order to grow significantly, you have to import your talent," explains Hausmann. That is how countries like the US have managed to gain a competitive advantage. "If it was only based on locally born talent, Silicon Valley would not have existed". The first spearhead for Curaçao's growth strategy is: [A] new construction of dwellings, consisting of two legs: (1st) public housing construction and (2nd) apartment development on the basis of public-private partnerships (PPP) for various income groups, which a mix can also be realized.

In the spatial sense, conditions-creating innovation zones must first be created. Why? These innovation zones are different from the current trade-free zones as we know them. A trade-free zone is a zone in which only work functions are concentrated. In innovation zones all sorts of mix function developments can be realized, exempt from existing obsolete legislation laid down in the current Island Development Plan (EOP) and general spatial development regulations of Curaçao. These innovation zones have a strong experimental basis and function as 'living labs'. Through the introduction of new legislation and later through a promulgation in the media, a 'Key Planning Decision' (PKB) of the Council of Ministers for certain areas of the island and / or zones can be put into effect immediately. As a result, spatial changes can be implemented faster on the basis of new spatial legislation. For example, government-related domains such as Wechi and the Isla site (600 hectares) would be developed faster, without having to go through a long period of cumbersome procedures for the implementation of new building types and development products. Based on the current obsolete spatial planning legislation, changes are linked to following a notice of objection before any proposed changes can be finally implemented. In short, partly as a result of private investments, the designated innovation zones can then be partly set up as residential areas and also in combination with work functions.

The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Works has used similar developments in the past using the PKB instrument. For example, in the designation of Schiphol Airport as a growth pole. Until 2010, the Netherlands had the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM), the tasks of which were transferred to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. In addition to new construction, the further elaboration of two other spearheads is necessary for anchoring a growth strategy to a society for Curaçao 4.0, namely:

[B] developing new economic pillars (including attracting investors),

[C] and the implementation of educational innovations.

For these spearheads, similar deregulating instruments and measures must first be developed for the implementation of a complete, modern and integrated growth strategy for Curaçao.

In the organizational sense, separate project organizations will have to be set up per zone for the management and implementation of these innovation zones. These can be set up as an example of "Corporations", such as for the redevelopment of the London Docklands in England and also for the redevelopment of Bilbao (with the Guggenheim Museum as an attraction motor for tourists).

By Sharnon Isenia, Willemstad Curaçao

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